The Dallas Cowboys have a severe need at the defensive tackle position this offseason. After giving up 5.0 yards/carry and ranking at the bottom of the league in interior pressure rate, they need to improve inside in both facets of the game.
It’s imperative they address their interior defensive line sooner rather than later. And considering rookies rarely hit the ground as impact players their first year, it’s imperative the Dallas Cowboys use free agency to address the post and not rely on the draft.
Yesterday we discussed how Dallas’ DTs didn’t just impact the defense’s ability to handle the line of scrimmage, but they impacted the linebackers and defensive backs behind them as well. As such, upgrading the defensive tackle position doesn’t just upgrade the interior line, but it also upgrades Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Donovan Wilson behind.
Let’s look at the top-5 free agent defensive tackles that fit the Dallas Cowboys needs.
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t exactly known for their willingness to pay big money to veteran free agents. Not since Brandon Carr have they swung big, so by no means should we EXPECT them suddenly go big now.
But after bargain veterans Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy blew up their faces last season, they may be more willing to alter their way of thinking this offseason. So today we’ll look at a variety of capable players who range from modestly priced veterans to elite options.
If the Dallas Cowboys are open to spending big on the DT position, then they could do worse than Dalvin Tomlinson. Tomlinson, 6-foot-3, 317 lbs. enters free agency as one of the premiere free agent defensive tackles. The only reason he actually expected to be available is because his teammate, Leonard Williams, is also a free agent and chances are the New York Giants will prioritize him over Tomlinson
This run-stuffing specialist is capable of playing both 1-gap and 2-gap defense inside, and is ideal for the Dallas Cowboys 1-tech role. While he has shown some pass-rushing ability, he’s far from being a legit threat making him more of a two-down DT than an every down player.
What’s working against him is the Dallas Cowboys never seem to value the 1-tech position nearly as much as they do the 3-tech position. Historically, they’ve only opened their pocket books for interior pass-rushers, so if they don’t think they can get pressure from someone like Tomlinson, chances are they won’t even consider him.
At just 27-years-old, Tomlinson’s best football is ahead of him. But Dallas has had many opportunities to sign players like him in the recent past (D.J. Reader and Javon Hargrave last season) and didn’t even bother kicking the tires.
While new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn could change the way they view certain positions, I’d consider Tomlinson a long-shot signing for Dallas as they opt to go cheaper at 1-tech and would spend bigger at the 3-tech.